Arizona bill would give teachers big pay raise: Here's what you should know about HB 2800

A bill that is making its way through the Arizona State Legislature would, if approved and sign into law, give an instant and big boost in salary for teachers across the state.

While both Republicans and Democrats agree with the spirit of the HB 2800, in that Arizona teachers need to be paid more, both sides are in dispute over the finer details within the bill.

Here's what you should know about the bill.

What is HB 2800?

HB 2800, as introduced, would give all teachers two pay raises:

  • For Fiscal Year 2023-2024, a raise of $5,000 above base salary of Fiscal Year 2022-2023
  • For Fiscal Year 2024-2025, a raise of $10,000 above base salary of Fiscal Year 2022-2023

All Arizona teachers, according to the bill, will receive the same level of pay raise, without regards to their experience or teaching assignments.

"This is a check, if this bill passes, every teacher in Arizona will get as additional compensation," Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said.

Other proponents of HB 2800 say with money from the "Pay Teachers First Fund," Arizona will be among the top five states for highest teacher pay.

Where is the money coming from?

The proposed raise comes with a $700 million price tag, and requires legislative approval on an annual basis. The bill calls for using Arizona's budget surplus to fund the increases.

Arizona is anticipating a $1.8 billion surplus for the year.

Why are some people against it?

Teachers and union officials say provisions within HB 2800 are not sustainable.

"The catch is they also say you can't pay a teacher less after you give them this raise," said Chris Kotterman with the Arizona School Boards Association. "That is a problem, because when the money goes away, either we pay them less, or we pay other employees less."

Kotterman also says money should go towards increasing per pupil spending overall.

"What we need to do is continue to increase the base level, which is how we funded that last teacher raises, in order to make sure that the amount of money per student that gets to the
schools is sufficient to pay teachers a marketable wage, and that's the way," said Kotterman.

Republican lawmaker Matt Gress of Phoenix was critical of those who opposed the bill.

"Opponents are trying to find every reason under the sun to say this is a bad bill," said State Rep. Gress. "It's very simple: $10,000 going directly to teachers, doing the job that school boards have failed to do, in my view."

State Rep. Gress is listed as a primary sponsor of HB 2800.